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"I have a love of songs that get me out of the quotidian. I like operas. Operas are completely in their own world, aren’t they? Within the sanctuary of the opera house, they weave otherworldly spaces for four hours. I love such songs with vistas into other worlds―-songs that seem to distort the size of my rooms when I listen to them. When I make melodies in my own little way, the lyrics end up that way. Lyrics like “I bought three radishes and found them cheap～♪” aren't relevant to my interests! It goes like “A traveler searching for eternity～♪” instead."--Yuki Kajiura.
Genre Busting Japanese composer, music producer, impresario, and ethnomusicologist, born in Tokyo in 1965 but raised in The Bonn Republic. After returning to Japan as a teenager, she worked as an Office Lady before quitting in 1992. She first came to musical prominence as one half of the group See-Saw with Chiaki Ishikawa in the 1990s, and established herself as a solo composer with the seminal soundtracks to Noir and .hack and the musical Shooting-Star Lullaby (as well as at least some of the Japanese institution that is Sakura Taisen), subsequently spending many years as the 'house composer' for Bee Train.
Widely considered second only (or equal) to Yoko Kanno as an Anime soundtrack composer, her Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly sensibilities, unusual way of life, and undeniable talent have invited comparisons to such figures as Ennio Morricone and Ludwig Van Beethoven--amazing compliments, considering that she lists her favourite period in music (modern music, anyway) as The Eighties (Nostalgia Filter may be at work here considering that she's a member of Gen X) and her favourite artists as including New Order and Depeche Mode. But then, just because you like something doesn't necessarily mean that your own work is anything like it.
Indeed, her music isn't, as a whole, 'like' anything else in particular. It ranges from Ominous Constructed Language Chanting (Madlax) to Psycho Strings (Kara no Kyoukai) to sweet pop music (many a Mai Franchise Image Song) to lushly instrumented suites (Noir) to whatever her band Kalafina is supposed to be. El Cazador de la Bruja is notable for having shown Kajiura's work in ethnomusicology and the musical traditions of Latin America and the American West, evoking musicians from Daniel Alomia Robles to Johnny Cash and Frankie 'Old Leather Lungs' Laine. She was for a time an impresario for the innovative pop group ALI Project, and brought them into the Noir production.
All-in-all, she's generally thought of as a unique, still relatively young musician of great talent, worthy of her widely-perceived status as The Rival to Yoko Kanno (although they don't seem to bear each other any ill-will at all).
Her closest western equivalent is Hans Zimmer, who also bears a penchant of crossing high-tech modernity with epic opera.
She's associated with the following tropes:
- A Girl And Her Piano: Although she does also have a dog, apparently.
- Asexuality: Has mentioned far preferring pianos to either women (at least, women who aren't her pet singers) or men.
- Author Appeal: Apocalyptic Buddhism.
- Born in the Wrong Century: Intentionally patterns her appearance and life after the German Romantics. She seems to be aiming to, essentially, dissolve pop music back into classical music as opposed to the more common inverse of bringing classical flourishes to pop. It would appear that she views The Eighties as the most worthwhile period for non-classical music, oddly enough.
- Maybe not so oddly, as she would have been a teenager around the time that bands like Dire Straits and Talking Heads became big.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Seriously, just...watch a non-music video of her and wait until she breaks out the blank stares and references to chocolate.
- Cosplay Otaku Girl: She has a hand in picking out what her performers wear for videos and concerts.
- Deconstructor Fleet: She started to make it big around the same time she took two of the most wildly different types of music imaginable, J-pop and German melodic pre-romanticism, and erased the dozens of cultural and historical barriers between them.
- Fictionary: 'Kajiuran', an apparently full-fledged Constructed Language that is phonotactically and morphologically sophisticated, but semantically meaningless.
- God Is Love Song: "Red Moon" comes across this way, making certain allowances for explicit expressions of horror at the secular world.
- Mad Artist: Has these traits.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: In addition to 'classicising' pop music, she also does some fine work in reproducing the sounds of cultures that interest her or are relevant to the projects on which she works.
- Reclusive Artist: To an extent. It's also possible that she simply doesn't really have a private life to conceal.
- Religious Horror: Some of her recent lyrics have this vibe. Buddhist version, with implications of living in the Age of the Degenerate Dharma, with no Future Buddha yet in sight.
- Serious Business: Some detractors see her as taking Anime soundtracks far too seriously.
- Sex Is Evil: Sort of. 'Love Is Good' is the more prominent message; her lyrics excel at depicting every facet of romantic love from the best to the worst, and her body of work presents a world defined almost solely by romantic love; but the actual sex act, when the music addresses or alludes to it, tends to come across as something almost Lovecraftian.
- "In Your Eyes" makes this explicit. The 'pure-hearted' narrator of the song, by nature of being pure-hearted, is unable to understand 'a kiss that does not just end at a kiss', and this is presented as a good thing.
- Smoking Is Cool: She smokes thin cigarettes in holders a la Franklin D Roosevelt, or at least did until recently.
- Spiritual Successor: "Ongaku", to a Matthew Arnold poem called "Dover Beach". Maybe.
- The Hecate Sisters: Kalafina plays with this, giving us three young women who present as (L-R) Mother (Wakana), Maiden (Hikaru), and Crone (Keiko). Perhaps unusually, the fan favourite in this case is the Crone, meaning that Keiko is also a pseudo-example of Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have! at the age of twenty-four.
- Also self-consciously a little Norn-ish stylistically.
- Yuri Fan: Possibly? She does seem to work on a lot of Les Yay-heavy shows.
Yuki Kajiura may be heard in:
- Eat Man
- Sakura Taisen (the musical)
- Boogiepop Phantom (The Movie)
- Le Portrait De Petit Cossette
- Gundam Seed (In part.)
- Chrono Crusade (In part.)
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
- Kara no Kyoukai
- Fist of the North Star: True Saviour Legend
- Black Butler (In part.)
- El Cazador de la Bruja
- Pandora Hearts
- Sora no Woto (In part.)
- Eve no Jikan (In part.)
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Yarudora series vol.1: Double Cast